How to Add Subtitles to MKV on Mac and Windows Permanently

Peter William
October 28, 2022 Preview 16.4K Preview 0
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Subtitles are usually displayed at the bottom of the videos to make them more accessible to a larger audience. They are very important for people who are hard of hearing or can't understand foreign videos. When you have trouble watching MKV movies or TV shows without subtitles, you can integrate subtitles into MKV videos. This post will discuss how to add subtitles to MKV on Mac and Windows permanently.


Facts about Subtitles

1) Hardcore subtitles vs. soft subtitles

Hardcore subtitles (a.k.a. burned-in subtitles, open captions) compress the subtitle file and the video stream in the same set of data, like a watermark, which can't be separated. No matter what player and device you use to watch, the subtitles will be directly on the movie. The disadvantage is that hard subs are unable to be edited and removed.

Soft subtitles (a.k.a. encapsulated subtitles, closed captions) embed the subtitle file into the video as part of the stream. For example, MKV container incorporates video, audio and subtitle into one single file. The subtitle is embedded in the MKV video as a stream. You are capable of turning on or off these soft subs stream, as well as extract/edit/delete subtitles with related tools.

It’s more recommended to add hardcore subtitles to MKV video, as soft subtitles are not easy to integrate and fail to open in some video players.

Tips: Forced subtitles are a burned-in-text. It's applied to translate or explain segments spoken in a foreign language, symbols, slang words, flags, etc. You can also add forced subtitles to MKV movie.

2) Subtitle file formats

Before embedding subtitles into MKV, make sure what subtitle format you want to choose. Below are some subtitle file formats:

  • SRT
  • WebVTT
  • STL
  • SAMI
  • XML
  • SCC
  • ASS

The most widely used one is SRT, which comes with good compatibility and can be played with any device and platform.

3) Best websites to download subtitles for MKV movies & TV shows


Add (Hardcore) Subtitles to MKV

#1 Use Video Converter (Fast and Professional)

Cisdem Video Converter is an outstanding subtitle converter to embed external SRT and ASS subtitles in your MKV video. It supports a variety of formats, such as MP4, WMV, AVI, MOV, MPEG, MP3, and so forth. So you can also integrate subtitles into other video formats.

It's not just a subtitle converter but rather an all-in-one solution for audio and video. The app helps you convert, edit, download videos in any format and digitalize DVDs.

Free Download   Free Download

How to embed subtitles into MKV video permanently on Mac or PC:

Step 1. Load MKV files

Run Cisdem Video Converter on the computer. Directly drag source MKV files into the "convert" interface.

import mkv movies

Step 2. Add SRT to MKV on Mac or Windows

Click on the “Edit” button at the top right corner, the editing window will pop up.

click edit

Hit “Subtitle & Audio” > “No subtitles” to open the drop-down box > “Load subtitles” to import downloaded SRT or ASS subtitle from your local folder.

Click “OK” to save your change.

video converter add subtitles to mkv mac

Step 3. Specify the output format as MKV

The default output format is set to MP4, thus you should go to “General Video”, and choose “MKV Video” or “MKV HEVC Video”.

choose mkv format

Step 4. Start embedding subtitles permanently

When all the settings of the imported videos are completed, hit the “convert” button to embed external subtitles to MKV on Mac or Windows PC.

For PC users, try VideoProc, which will assist you to add SRT to movies on Windows.

Free Download   Free Download

#2 Use VLC

VideoLAN VLC can be used as MKV player for Mac and Windows, but you have neglected its ability to embed subtitles to video. It doesn't mean simply clicking "Add Subtitles File" on the top menu while playing MKV files. This function is not a permanent embedded subtitle, and all media players can do it.

The program supports a long list of caption formats, like MicroDVD, SubRip, SubViewer, OGM, VobSub, etc.

Now, take Windows operating system and VLC 3.0.8 as an example, see how to add SRT to MKV on PC.

  1. Initiate VLC. Go to choose “Media” > “Convert / Save”.open vlc
  2. Once the “Open Media” dialogue shows up, import your MKV movie.
  3. Tick “Use a subtitle file”. Add SRT subtitle from your Windows.upload media files vlc
  4. Click the “Convert / Save button, and select “Convert” from dropdown.
  5. On the new window, hit the wretch icon next to profile format.
  6. Set the “Encapsulation” as MKV. Navigate to the “Video codec” and “Audio codec” menu, check “Keep original video or audio track” checkbox.
  7. Under “Subtitles” tab, Tick “Overlay subtitles on the video”. Click “Save”.overlay subtitles vlc
  8. Specify a destination folder and press “Start”.

Don’t open the export file that appears immediately. Wait a moment. If your MKV video is 5 minutes, then please wait for more than 5 minutes.

In addition, VLC works differently over various machines and versions. It's may fail to embed subtitles into MKV on your Mac or Windows computer.

#3 Use Online Tool is an online service to merge/compress/resize/cut/speed video, add subtitles to video and make video meme.

It's a fast way to add subtitles to MKV. You can manually or straightly add the SRT file. Also, you can choose a font, size, align the text, as well as set the subtitle start time and end time.

  1. Visit web in the browser.
  2. Click "Choose file" to upload MKV video from your local computer, Google Drive or Dropbox.
  3. Choose to add subtitles manually or upload downloaded SRT.choose how to add clideo
  4. From the right panel, edit subtitles and pick your favorite styles.edit subtitles clideo
  5. At the bottom of the screen, drag subtitles around the timeline to adjust the time period for subtitles to be applied.drag timeline clideo
  6. Click "Export".
  7. Download the customized video with subtitles.
    Note: The output can only be MP4, not MKV format.integrate subtitles into mkv online

You need to spend $9 per month, $72 per year to remove the watermark. The free version can’t upload a video longer than 10 minutes, otherwise it will prompt "Error: Your browser dropped the connection while uploading the file". But a complete MKV movie is at least 90 minutes long.

Add (Soft) Subtitles to MKV without Re-encoding

#1 Try MKVToolNix

MKVToolNix is an open-source toolkit to add subtitles to MKV on Mac, Windows, and Linux. It's able to merge SRT, SUB, and IDX subtitle files with MKV movies without re-encoding.

Moreover, you can use MKVToolNix to create, split, mux, demux, extract, inspect, and edit MKV videos.

But the exported video files are a bit stuck when playing.

  1. Launch MKVToolNix, and stay on its “Multiplexer” interface.
  2. Click “Add source files” to separately import MKV video and subtitle file(s).
    Note: Ensure that the MKV and subtitle file is in the same folder and have the same file name.
  3. Select a destination to save your final file.
  4. Click the “Start multiplexing” button.mkvtoolnix embed subtitles into mkv

#2 Try Command-line

To add subtitles to videos via command-line, you should use 2 tools - Terminal app and FFMPEG open-source software project.

Additionally, you also need to know some code technology. The commands are alive. When you find that they are unavailable or have an error, you can flexibly modify them.

Here are the steps I took to successfully remux subtitles into MKV.

  1. Install FFMPEG to your Mac or Windows computer.
  2. Launch Terminal, and drag FFMPEG into it.
  3. Type the command-line: -i input.mkv -i -c copy output.mkv.
    Note: input.mkv and refer to your local file. you should drag them to Terminal.
  4. Press “Enter” to begin re-multiplexing or re-packing.add subtitles to mkv ffmpeg

Final Words

Have you decided which way to choose to add subtitles to MKV on Mac and Windows permanently? Cisdem Video Converter, VLC, and will help you add hardcore subtitles to videos, whereas MKVToolNix and FFMPEG are good to integrate soft subtitles to MKV videos. My choice is Cisdem subtitle converter and MKVToolNix. They are easy to use and finish tasks quickly and smoothly.

Peter William
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Peter has always had great enthusiasm for writing, programming and web development. He likes writing about software and technology, his works are featured on some tech blogs or forums like Tom's Hardware, CNET, etc.

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